Delta has some pretty sweet flights where each seat has its own little monitor in front of it, so you can watch whatever you want instead of having to endure some of the stuff I’ve been “treated” to on previous flights (Transformers 3, The Adjustment Bureau, over nine thousand romantic comedies…) I took advantage of it to catch up on some movies.
I don’t remember hearing much about The Adventures of Tintin after it came out. Before, people were lining up to say that it could never work, the CGI was uncanny valley, no one in America cares about Tintin, and so forth. Afterwards, though, I heard nothing. Turns out this movie is a lot of fun, with great action, beautiful scenes, and a devotion to the source material without becoming enslaved by it. If one asked the question, “Why bother to use CGI? Why not make it a live-action movie?” there were several scenes to answer it which utilized the medium in a remarkable fashion. I’ve only ever read a handful of Tintin comics but I’ve liked what I’ve read and this movie makes me want to read a lot more.
“Hang on, Dave,” you’re saying. “This feature is ‘Dave finally watches’, not ‘Dave watches again.” But here’s the truth: I had never seen The Shining. I’ve said before that I was a, let’s say timid, kid. There was no way I was going to see this movie in 1980, or even soon afterwards. Hell, when it came on HBO I remember hitting the “Come and play with us, Danny!” scene several times (is it at a 30-minute mark, where I would have seen it while flipping channels?) and that alone gave me nightmares. I knew enough to follow the crazy-ass conspiracy theory websites about it, but that was pretty much it. So I finally decided the see the damn thing. I liked it well enough, but I understand why King supposedly didn’t care for Jack Nicholson in it. I’m not sure when Jack Nicholson stopped acting and just played Jack Nicholson, but it was at least before here, because here he is as the same old guy. Even at the beginning he doesn’t come off as normal enough, so the transition he makes just doesn’t really happen. (Similarly, Shelly Duvall tries hard not to look harrowed at the beginning, but she does.) It was pretty good, but I think I saw it too late and with too much baggage to fully appreciate it.
I started to watch Tower Heist but after about ten minutes or so I gave up, as it was just not at all funny. Also tried Ides of March but I wasn’t in the mood for it. They had Drive, which I want to see, but they claimed it had been edited (which was odd, considering Delta happily gave me full-frontal nudity in The Shining) so I decided to hold off. Then I remembered something I had on my iPad. Something I was saving for a special occasion like this.
Speaking of things I never saw in the 80s. (There are actually a lot of 80s staples I’ve never seen at all or all the way through: Buckaroo Banzai is one I’ve tried three times and never succeeded at, not sure I ever saw all of The Goonies, and Predator started off too damn slow for me.) I figured I was way too late to appreciate Big Trouble in Little China but I thought I would give it a try. It is, without a doubt, violently, passionately, aggressively 80s. I didn’t see them, but I’m assuming a Rubik’s cube and Swatch watch are featured in it somewhere. It’s also a lot of stupid fun without emphasizing the stupid. As BTiLC enthusiast Chris Sims pointed out, it succeeds at being a big action movie while making fun of big action movies. Jack Burton’s character is the kind of dumb “wisecracking” badass that later movies would roll with seriously, yet it’s pretty clear the viewer is supposed to recognize him as beyond parody. And yet, at the end, when he delivers his final line to Wang, Kurt Russell momentarily puts the character aside and delivers it in a way that makes it land in a special, significant way. Glad I finally got to this!